Sep 7, 2011

Posted by in Interviews | 270 Comments

Interview: Scott Belsky, CEO of Behance

Aah, yes, Behance; the wonderfully enchanting world of talent.

Contrary to the Field of Dreams-inspired concept of “build it and they will come”, the reality is that without an adequate social network of like-minded people, many a good idea may get lost.  That’s where community-driven networks like Behance come in.  Behance is probably the top community these days for creative talent.  It recently passed its milestone of 1 million published projects and has its eyes set on working towards further empowering creatives.

It was very exciting for us to have the pleasure of catching up with the man behind it all this week.  Scott Belsky is the CEO and Co-founder of Behance and author of ‘Making Ideas Happen’.  We chatted with him about his thoughts on collaboration, community-based websites and the future of Behance!


Credit: unknown; if you own the photo please get in touch so we can credit you Trying to come up with a big idea from scratch can be paralyzing.  I like the quote that you reference in your book that all great inventions emerge from a sequence of small sparks. Behance is clearly a successful and trend-setting project; what previous “sparks” you worked on that ultimately evolved into the Behance network.

Scott: There were many. The first that comes to mind was a project during my senior year of college that focused on “redesigning the resume for the creative professional.” It was ~2001 and I was thinking about integrating live media content and video into a very old-school format for self-presentation. This was a powerful spark. Another powerful one happened years later when I was working in “organizational improvement and leadership development” in a large company. All of these sparks certainly collided during the founding years of Behance. You mention in your book that from Behance’s activity data, you’ve been able to gain insights into how people with ideas gain traction.  It would be great if you could share some of those insights and any other discernible patterns that you’ve noticed in the way users interact.

Scott: Well, we do track co-owned projects that represent collaborations between creative professionals, often from different fields and locations. We are also tracking which tools are used for projects that are published. With this information, we’re trying to assemble a “creative graph” of how great work is conceived and produced. We’ll have more to show on this in the months and years ahead. Before Behance, there were (and still are) online communities like DeviantART that have large user-bases.  Was your belief that Behance could successfully compete with them a leap of faith or was it more of a calculated decision?

Scott: It was a conscious decision to create something different that solves big problems in a very disorganized industry. We see Behance as a platform, not a website. The reason is that Behance powers creative portfolio display for LinkedIn and other sites like, AIGA, School of Visual Arts, and many more. Behance also powers thousands of personal online portfolio websites for creative professionals via our utility. There are many ways to showcase and discover creative work online, but Behance is all about efficiency, professionalism, and leveraging the LATEST technology to boost career opportunity. Some aspiring entrepreneurs feel it challenging to garner a critical mass of users and so that becomes a psychological impediment for them early on.  Which of the recommendations that you mention in your book do you feel helped most in allowing Behance to grow so rapidly and capture the interest of such high-caliber designers and artists that we see on it today?

Scott: We assembled our own “circles” of credible users that helped us evolve the product and held us accountable over time.


The Behance Network Do you think we’ll see more companies moving towards collaborating with their users and facilitating collaboration between users as a means of achieving innovation?

Scott: Yes, with the sharing of API’s and the rise of the art of community management, online networks will play a very powerful role in both tech innovation and spurring collaboration. We are certainly very excited about this. Data visualization has garnered a lot of interest lately and there are several companies that are trying to capitalize on the increasing interest in it.  Does Behance have any plans to expand into this field?  Do you have plans, for example, to release an API at some point to allow developers to work with your data?

Scott: We do want to share more data about the Behance Network.  In fact, we JUST released this:

Scott: We do have an API that we have shared selectively, and we are excited to engage more designers and developers with tools to tap into what we call the “creative stream” – the constant stream of creative work being published by creative professionals across industries, all around the world. Have you ever had a mentor?

Scott: Yes, I have had multiple mentors in many forms. I think great advice, at certain moments, can make all the difference. I also believe that mentorship is a two-way street that must be mutually rewarding for both participants. I see that you’re already on Google+, how do you like it?  Does their stated goal of making social interactions between people more like real life resonate with Behance’s goals?

Scott: I am lukewarm at the moment on Google+, but jury is still out. Keeping a close eye on it! What are your plans for Behance in the near future?

Scott: We are very focused on organizing the creative world’s work. If we make progress, then we will be able to leverage the platform to help match the best talent with the best opportunity. Our team is up day and night working hard to make this happen. We have an extremely exciting pipeline… I just wish there were more hours in a day! ;-)


Rock on, Behance!

  1. Nice interview..good stuff

  2. Can we have more interviews like this pls :-) Love u guys, keep it up. Am a big fan of behance!

  3. “a wonderfully enchanting world of talent”

  4. Nice article.
    I sent you an email a few days ago. Let me know what you think.

  5. A great interview with a great guy!! i am really glad to read this…

    keep on rockin’

  6. Great interview guys. How did you manage to get a hold of Scott? I am personally really intrigued by their Action Method tool and method.

  7. I love the confidence this man has and what he has created out of nothing, with big competitors out there… Great inspiration!

  8. Nice job, Ali

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